The B.C. government unveiled plans Monday to introduce computer coding in its school curriculum, addressing a chronic skills shortage in one of the few areas of the Canadian economy that is doing well – technology.

“Every kindergarten to grade 12 student will have…the opportunity to learn the basics of coding,” Premier Christy Clark said at the opening of a two-day provincial government-backed summit on technology in Vancouver.

Tech sector could make up for resource slump (BNN Video)

Ms. Clark announced the change, first revealed Sunday by The Globe and Mail, as part of a broader strategy to deliver more support to the province’s tech sector. It’s a shift for a government whose economic agenda has largely focused on natural resources, though B.C.’s flourishing tech sector employs 86,000 people – more than forestry, mining and oil and gas combined. The government unveiled the first piece of the strategy last month, creating a$100-million venture fund to finance startups.

Canadian political leaders have increasingly championed the digital economyafter largely overlooking the sector in recent years. With oil and other commodities trading at multiyear lows, the economy teetering and a new class of startups gaining traction and disrupting traditional industries, Canadian politicians are hearing they need new, effective approaches to foster innovation and support tech startups.

A group of successful Canadian tech entrepreneurs, for example, recently warned Ottawa that a Liberal election pledge to fully tax stock-option gains above $100,000 would stunt their ability to attract talent.

Meanwhile, a chronic skills and talent shortage is expected to worsen, with Canada forecast to be short more than 180,000 information, communications and technology workers by 2019, according to one recent report.

“Computer science skills … are increasingly critical as technology is where all future job growth lies,” said Jeff Booth, CEO of Vancouver’s BuildDirect Technologies Inc., a web platform for ordering construction materials with 330 employees. “There is already a war for talent in technology that has companies like ours searching the world for the best engineers. … It’s very possible that computer coding and other technology skills may become as critical as reading and writing.”

Last week, during a visit to Google’s new Canadian operation in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged, “We need to do a lot better job of getting young people to understand what coding is and how it’s important.”

The new B.C. coding curriculum will be introduced across all grades over the next three years, featuring new standards in mathematics and sciences and a new and redesigned “applied design, skills and technologies” (ADST) component to improve students’ abilities to solve problems and think creatively.

The way students are taught will change starting in kindergarten, through “exploratory and purposeful play” that stimulates an aptitude for ADST. As they age, B.C. students will learn about computational thinking and learn the various aspects of programming. By the end of Grade 9, the government “students will also be able to experience basic coding,” a government source said.

Ms. Clark said it’s her goal to ensure coding education “doesn’t just become an opportunity for every child to take part in, but to ultimately make it mandatory for every child from kindergarten to grade 12 to learn about coding and how it works.

Students in middle grades will learn how to code, debug algorithms and use various coding techniques, including visual programming, while high-school students will have the opportunity to specialize in particular areas of technology.

B.C. follows Nova Scotia, which announced last October it will introduce coding to the curriculum this fall. Coding was also recently added to school curriculum in Britain and is coming in Australia.

While most Canadian provinces offer some computer-science classes and technology in classrooms, the net result is a patchwork, bolstered by outside initiatives aimed at addressing the coding deficiency in schools, such asGoogle-backed program Codemakers, which seeks to expose 100,000 Canadian children to programming.

Members of the Canadian tech community praised the coming B.C. initiative. “Providing a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum early in a child’s education is fundamental in advancing Canada’s innovation agenda,” said John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, a leading Canadian venture-capital fund. “Hopefully, the rest of Canada will follow [B.C.’s] lead.”

Canadian tech entrepreneur and investor Jevon MacDonald said, “It’s amazing to see different provinces taking the initiative to include computer programming in our public-school curriculum,” and called on provinces to jointly develop national coding education standards. “This would mean that no Canadian child would miss out.”

Tobi Lutke, chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Shopify Inc., one of Canada’s most successful startups, said it’s essential to vanquish “one of the greatest generational divides in history” by encouraging widespread computer literacy. “To the initiated, computers can solve nearly any workflow problem,” he said. “There is a reason why almost all entrepreneurs are ‘techies’ these days – they are the only ones that can teach computers new things. It’s an unfair advantage and entirely unnecessary. Computer programming is not hard and it is a whole lot of fun.

“Essentially every company in the world is either turning into a software company or is in the process of dying because of a software company,” Mr. Lutke added. “In this great reshuffling of the business world, we need Canada to end up with a good share of the newly created and scaled companies. There is tremendous upside for Canada in making computer literacy part of the core curriculum. … Whoever figures out how to teach computer literacy first will have by far the most prepared work force. It’s hard to overestimate the potential of that.”

The B.C. government announced other initiatives to support the tech sector, including making it easier for tech firms to sell to government.



Boot camps, ‘an accelerated launch pad into a career,’ are cropping up coast to coast to coast


Paulo Ancheta, 27, makes a delicious sous vide rib-eye steak. But Ancheta is more likely to tell you about Goodbits, a new newsletter platform he’s working on, than his mean cooking skills. After emigrating from the Philippines in 2008, Ancheta trained in Italian and French cuisine. For six years he bounced between small Vancouver restaurants and hotels, but dreamed of being a software developer. In the spring, he signed up for the CodeCore Bootcamp. Eight weeks later, he was hired as an apprentice web developer with Brewhouse Software in Gastown.

CodeCore, based in Vancouver, is one of many coding boot camps that have sprung up across Canada recently. Known for their ability to stay on top of industry trends, they are the new source for filling the talent gap, particularly in smaller, creative industries and start-ups on the hunt for developers with hard skills.

A recent labour market report from the Information and Communications Technology Council says Canada will need 182,000 workers to fill IT jobs by 2019.

Offering small class sizes (typically 25 students) and mentorship from professional instructors with experience in the tech industry, this new wave of short, intensive courses trains graduates to hit the ground running. “People are dying for developers,” explains Jeremy Shaki, CEO and co-founder of Lighthouse Labs, a coding school that offers web and iOS development programs in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and even Whitehorse. “Boot camps offer an accelerated launchpad into a career.”

The usual route is a four-year university degree or a three-year college diploma in computer sciences. Though many IT positions require a computer-science degree, these jobs tend to be at larger corporations such as Microsoft. University graduates sometimes lack hands-on experience demanded by the blossoming tech start-up scene.

“We’ve heard students say they’ve completed computer-science degrees and never written a line of code,” says Charlyne Fothergill, director of career services for Lighthouse Labs and a former HR manager in high tech.

Though demand outstrips placements, with acceptance rates at about 25 to 30 per cent, these mini-schools do not require experience in coding or a background in computer sciences. The main prerequisite is the desire to be a developer. (Schools do test for basic skills.)

The six- to 12-week boot camps, which cost from $6,000 to $12,000, are cheaper and faster than a university or college program. This appeals to “career-changers”­—25- to 35-year-olds looking for a way to acquire a new skill set that complements their area of expertise. “We’re taking a lot of already-professionals and teaching them to be developers, which a lot of companies find very valuable,” says Shaki. “Code has become a vessel for whatever other passions [developers] have.”

Bootcamps typically offer career services, which connect students to a network of potential employers. Across Canada, more than 90 per cent of bootcamp students are hired within months of graduating. “Anyone who graduates and wants a job has gotten one within three months,” he says.

Some colleges and institutes across Canada have started offering intensive web-development programs. For example, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary offers a 23-week “fast-track” certificate in web development, which includes an eight-week practicum and boasts a 90 per cent employment rate. These programs feature a narrowly focused coding curriculum. “I was a bit skeptical of the eight-week boot camp, as somebody with zero experience,” explains Gillian Black, a 29-year-old development intern at a Toronto-based advertising agency, who got a post-grad certificate in web development from Humber College in Toronto. For the fine arts and psychology grad, the year-long program seemed a safer bet. “I learned more languages and had a longer time to develop a portfolio . . . This put me at an advantage,” Black says, although “it’s definitely possible to do [boot camp] and get hired as a junior developer.” Junior web developers can expect an entry-level salary of $40,000 to $50,000. Senior developers with eight to 10 years of experience can earn more than $80,000.


Why take technological education?


The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Students exposed to trades at an early age are more likely to enter those professions. Training of this nature in school produces accountable adults, writes Reece Morgan.

Hamilton Spectator

By Reece Morgan

Students within Ontario live in a society that is in the midst of rapid and pervasive change. This change is exemplified by the increasing diversity of our population, shifts in family structure, changing expectations in the workplace and financial uncertainty.

Demands have risen at both provincial and local levels to make our education system more accountable. The public, parents in particular want to know what the school system is doing to prepare students for a changing present and increasingly uncertain future. They also want to know how successful schools are in this preparation.

Many programs and initiatives have taken place over the course of the last few years with the hope of benefiting the adolescents in their transition into the labour market. Young persons entering into the world of work confront choices and pressures not experienced by previous generations. Schools, therefore have had to address the needs of young adults as they enter the world of work.

In a changing labour market, schools must provide timely and appropriate information in order to motivate students. Students also need to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills to enable them to make choices that will broaden their career opportunities. Improved support will therefore be needed to assist students making the transition from elementary to secondary school and moving from the transition years to future courses in secondary school and beyond. By exposing students to technological education, the school system is providing opportunities for students to build self-confidence to face change and encourage development of skills that will be required by future employers.

We have seen the closing of elementary shop programs over the past years and we are now seeing the repercussions where fewer and fewer students are pursuing skilled trades as a viable career option and still many do not have the appropriate transferable work skills including a strong work ethic that more and more employers are insisting from employees.

Growing up, either in or out of the workforce, is not just a question of getting older. It is a question of becoming fully socialized young men and women who are able to take up their respective roles in society. Experts have argued that the workforce has entered young people before they have entered the world of work. The education system must provide a broad ranging interdisciplinary curriculum and should aim to educate young people at an early age that technological education is good for both the individual and the community.

Technological education, including opportunities such as the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Specialist High Skills Major, and all forms of experiential learning, have helped give young people a starting point in realizing the value of work and that it transcends financial implications and becomes necessary for the whole person. These programs provide the opportunity for new and enriching experiences which complement classroom learning. By promoting greater involvement at an earlier age in these programs, it is believed that students will develop sound employment skills along with appropriate expectations and attitudes toward work from their experiences.

These programs help prepare students for a changing world by demonstrating that a career is not just an occupational destination, but rather a lifelong journey that includes varied and changing work, family and community roles. Taking technological education and all forms of experiential learning including OYAP, it can show students how to recognize and create opportunities, make informed choices and pursue their career goals more effectively.

Reece Morgan is an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program consultant with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.



On Saturday October 24, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., the public will have a unique and free opportunity to interact with researchers and artists at Hamilton’s second annual Researchers’ Night Hamilton at the McMaster Innovation Park. This year's theme is "EnLIGHTened - Light in all its Forms."


Though surrounded by science and innovation, we rarely have the occasion to meet the scientists and researchers behind the technologies that shape our current and future lives. The Researchers’ Night Hamilton is based on a concept very popular in France that has now spread across Europe. Presented in partnership with the French consulate, the evening will include talks from a visiting French researcher (invited for the occasion), local academics from McMaster University, professionals and artists. Presenters will engage the public with hands-on workshops, activities, and open discussions.


This year, “EnLIGHTened - Light in all its Forms,” will explore and observe fascinating projects happening here in Hamilton and in France including solar car and energy; study of light beams and light of the universe emitted during the Big Bang; sustainable archaeology; and interactive and theatrical art. There will also be bilingual French and English presentations.


All are welcome to attend including children 10 years to 110 years old.  

The Researchers’ Night Hamilton 2015 promises to be a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience for all!


Date: Saturday October 24, 2015

Time: 6 - 10 pm

Location: McMaster Innovation Park – 175 Longwood Road South, Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1

Admission and Parking: Free


Email :




Le samedi 24 Octobre, 2015, de 18:00 à  22h00, le public aura une occasion unique et gratuite d'interagir avec des chercheurs et des artistes lors de la deuxième édition annuelle de La Nuit des Chercheurs de Hamilton au cœur du Park d’Innovation de l’Université de McMaster. Le thème de cette année est «Illuminé - La lumière sous toutes ses formes." 


Entourés par la science et l'innovation, nous n’avons en fait que rarement l'occasion de rencontrer les scientifiques et les chercheurs qui sont à l’origine des technologies qui façonnent nos vies actuelles et futures. La Nuit des Chercheurs de Hamilton est basé sur un concept très populaire en France qui est maintenant répandu à travers toute l'Europe. Présentée en partenariat avec le consulat français, la soirée comprendra des discussions avec une chercheure française invitée pour l’occasion, des universitaires de l’université McMaster, des professionnels et des artistes. Le public participera à des ateliers et des discussions en petits groupes. 


Cette année, «La lumière sous toutes ses formes," va explorer des projets de recherche passionnants qui se déroulent à Hamilton et en France, y compris la voiture et l’énergie solaires, l’étude des matériaux  de lumière et la lumière de l’univers émise lors du Big Bang, l’archéologie durable et l’art du mime. Certaines présentations sont proposées en français et en anglais. 


Tous sont invités à y assister, y compris, bien entendu, les enfants de 10 ans à 110 ans. La Nuit des Chercheurs de Hamilton 2015 promet d'être une expérience inoubliable pour tous!


Date: Samedi 24 octobre, 2015 ; 18h - 22h

Lieu: McMaster Innovation Park – 175 Longwood Road South, Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1

Entrée et parking gratuits


Email :

AuthorLorenzo Somma



What is Canada’s Outstanding Principals™?

Canada’s Outstanding Principals recognizes outstanding contributions of principals in publicly funded schools. It honours principals from every province and territory in Canada who demonstrate innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and who have done something truly remarkable in public education.  

"We have been presented with world class, cutting edge ideas about our leadership work in school. The experience is so refreshingly different. Listening to global business leaders affirm us and challenge us to help construct the future of our nation through public education has spoken to our minds and our hearts." 
Sonja Lonsdale, 2015 Canada's Outstanding Principal, Iqaluit, Nunavut


Canada’s Outstanding Principals is both a nationally recognized award and an Executive Leadership Training Program. Launched in 2005, the executive leadership program was created, in partnership with Rotman School of Management, to strengthen the education system in Canada by developing its leaders in publicly funded schools across Canada. The program offers principals from across Canada, who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their schools and community, the opportunity to be brought to Toronto to be recognized nationally as innovative educators at an annual gala awards evening for 500 guests; to experience a five-day executive leadership training program at the Rotman School of Management; and become part of a National Academy of Principals, a pan-Canadian learning community of 500 Canada’s Outstanding Principals alumni.

This is the only executive leadership program in Canada designed to provide senior educators with leadership training that incorporates business management skills, taught by internationally renowned faculty from both business and education. The National Academy of Canada’s Outstanding Principals creates a learning community of outstanding principals across Canada who can share professionally, interact collegially and act as mentors to new colleagues. The Academy provides avenues for research and sharing of best practices.


"Thank you for your work with the Outstanding Principals program - you have given a gift to each of us that will last our lifetime, and also affect the lives of thousands of students under our care."
~ Nevin Halyk, 2015 Canada’s Outstanding Principal, Wadena, Saskatchewa

AuthorLorenzo Somma


Scott Gardner,The Hamilton Spectator file photo

Platform 302, a Cumberland Ave. "incubator" and shared office space for young entrepreneurs and companies less than 10 years old, held a "ladies night" to allow clients and guests to get to know each other. Photo by Scott Gardner, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator

By Nick Bontis 

"You can do anything in Hamilton."

We all know graphic designer Russell Gibbs' popular tagline, and many of us probably own the T-shirts sold throughout the city. But does the now popularized #HamOnt saying ring true?

It certainly seems the case for many of those launching businesses in our increasingly entrepreneurial city. From countless restaurants and boutiques to tech and life science startups, numerous thriving ventures have made Hamilton their home. However, the influx of new business activity cannot thrive in a vacuum.

Hamilton has responded with a truly impressive entrepreneurial ecosystem. But how does one navigate the myriad of resources available?

At the core, we have Hamilton's economic development department ( standing as the catalyst for business growth in our city, and its Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) as the one-stop source for budding entrepreneurs. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce ( is another entrepreneurial mainstay, providing its members with valuable resources and affinity programs.

Then we have McMaster Innovation Park ( MIP is a key part of Hamilton's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The university's research park supports startups, businesses and research, offering collaborative space for each sector to collocate, connect and commercialize.

Housed inside MIP is Innovation Factory (, a nonprofit regional innovation centre that is essential for startups looking to commercialize their ideas and small/medium businesses wanting to innovate within their organization. Workshops, one-on-one mentoring, events and extensive programming provide a full suite of entrepreneurial support.

Next, we have a surge in collaborative workspaces taking shape throughout the city: CoMotion on King (, Platform 302 (, The Seedworks (, TheCotton Factory ( and Uptown Business Club ( have all sprung up in recent years. These co-working spaces are making it easier for Hamilton entrepreneurs across a range of fields to secure lower-priced office space and establish connections with like-minded business owners — a big change for entrepreneurs who often feel overwhelmed when tackling their new business alone.

With more young people taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, the biggest growth area of entrepreneurial support in Hamilton has been for youth. Both McMaster University ( and Mohawk College ( have launched initiatives that provide extracurricular opportunities for post-secondary students to learn about new ventures. For those youth entrepreneurs serious about taking their ventures to the next level, McMaster and Innovation Factory partnered to open a dual-location campus-linked accelerator called The Forge (, which puts early-stage startups on the fast track to sales and validation through mentorship and training.

Also for young entrepreneurs, are a number of young professional (YP) groups that make it easy to connect and socialize. Hamilton HIVE ( is Hamilton's umbrella organization for YPs in the area, and connects its member groups through key events like the annual Hive X conference. The Hamilton Chamber's Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals (YEP) is one such group, providing resources for current and next-generation entrepreneurs. Other networking groups include Women in Entrepreneurship, StartupDrinks, GameDevDrinks, and Freelancer Meetups.

For those wanting to take their ventures to the stage, Hamilton is home to a number of pitch nights à la "Dragons' Den" where entrepreneurs can get comfortable speaking about their business. Innovation Factory hosts Innovation Nights, where local, inventive entrepreneurs pitch to a crowd of 100-plus. Upping the stakes, the annual Lion's Lair competition ( has 10 local startups that pitch to a panel of experts and compete for more than $160,000 in prizes. This year's awards gala takes place Sept. 30 at Carmen's and will attract a who's who of Hamilton's entrepreneurial scene.

Spectrum's Student Startup Competition, Software Hamilton's DemoCamps ( and IEC Hamilton's M.I. G. H. T. Y Pitch Competition ( are other excellent opportunities to test your idea and receive feedback on your business plan.

Hamilton is serious about entrepreneurship. The resources are abundant and the ecosystem is truly supportive and collegial. For those looking to launch a business in our city, #HamOnt's got your back.


Matthew Kershaw and Erin Dunham will open the doors of a tacos-and-tequila restaurant, The Mule, in Hamilton, Ont. Since they burst on to the restaurant scene, the pair have launched four eateries in quick succession. This time, though, they found a way to raise the necessary cash without living in their parents’ basements, running up their credit cards, or signing over their first-born child to a lender.

The fundraising method they chose actually drove traffic to their four other restaurants — Rapscallion, Two Black Sheep and Black Sheep Snack Bar, all in Hamilton, and The Alex in Burlington — and created the kind of buzz you can’t pay for about their new restaurant.

Last fall, Kershaw and Dunham launched a campaign on Indiegogo that raised $104,000. Indiegogo took a share of about five per cent. And Kershaw and Dunham allocated some cash (Kershaw is reluctant to say how much) to hire a marketing company that could generate some publicity for the venture, as well as for a launch party.

It was well worth the effort, Kershaw said. The pair surpassed their funding goal and ended up getting plenty of media coverage. “We really got the word out there,” he said. “The campaign started off with a big bang and then, the money just kept coming in.”

The duo got lots of attention from the media in the form of invitations for interviews in print, and on radio and television. “We noticed a huge spike in activity at all our restaurants,” Kershaw said. “Our restaurant traffic, across the board, has moved up dramatically. I think it really caught the imagination of the city. People thought it was funny — everyone loves the idea of giving the big middle finger to the bank.”

“We’ve seen a big increase in restaurants getting started through Indiegogo campaigns,” Slava Rubin, CEO of the crowdfunding platform said.

The benefit of launching a restaurant or business through crowdfunding, he said, “is that you not only raise funds but also connect directly with customers.” You can “test the market for your idea and establish ways to stay in touch with your supporters after the campaign ends,” he said, reminding them when the restaurant opens, sending notice of specials and generally keeping them in the loop.

To have a successful campaign, Indiegogo says, you must be passionate about your project and willing to let that shine through in your online video. “People don’t invest in products, they invest in people,” a company spokesman said.

It helps if people know a bit about who you are before you launch your campaign, said restaurateur Dave Mottershall, who recently used Kickstarter to raise $40,000 to open a restaurant called Loka in Toronto. Mottershall co-owned award-winning Prince Edward Island restaurant Terre Rouge and had a significant presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, logging 31,000 followers for his locally sourced, nose-to-tail recipes under the moniker Chef Rouge.

“Even though I hadn’t lived in Ontario for 15 years, people knew who I was through my Internet presence,” he said. Mottershall set a goal of $25,000 to launch his intimate 25- to 30-seat restaurant, with a stretch goal of $40,000. He easily achieved the stretch goal and is now in the process of looking for a location.

He figures he would have had zero chance of receiving funding if he’d gone to a bank. “I don’t have a real job in their eyes,” he said, “at least not the type that’s giving me a steady paycheque every week. I knew that the banks wouldn’t be able to help us out.”

To get his first restaurant off the ground, Kershaw lived at home into his 30s. “I’ve never been a fan of banks,” he said. “I don’t think they care if I live or die. I think their goal would be that no human beings work there, so if I can avoid them, I will.” As for taking money from investors, he admitted, the prospect scares him. “Erin (Dunham) and I like to have control,” he said. “We know what we’re doing and we’re good at it.

Both restaurateurs offered a variety of incentives for people to invest in their restaurants. Mottershall’s offerings ranged from a recipe e-book ($10), to an invitation for two to opening night with a five-course tasting menu ($100). You could even have one of the restaurant’s bathrooms named after you ($500).

Kershaw and Dunham offered gift certificates that matched donations dollar for dollar, as well as perks such as a roasted pig’s head and a case of beer delivered to your door ($500) and a roast suckling pig, plus the chance to have your name up on the wall of the restaurant forever ($1,000).

For Hamilton’s growing population of foodies, their’s was a win-win proposition — get a coupon for restaurants they’d go to anyway and help establish another great eatery in town. “We were not looking for a hand-out,” Kershaw said. “We obviously already have three successful places — it’s not like we deserve free money. Basically, we were asking for an advance.”

Kershaw admitted, he and Dunham were in uncharted territory. “No one we knew had ever done this before,” he said. “And we had over $100,000 in gift certificates out there.” He worried a bit that all of the coupons would come in at once, pushing down sales. But it didn’t happen that way. “Over 50 per cent have not been redeemed yet and I’m sure, just like gift certificates in the real world, some of them will never come back,” he said.

AuthorLorenzo Somma

One great thing about Twitter is how it forces you to distill your thoughts into 140 characters. So, my first tweet as Director of Education at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board summed up my feelings with:

“Excited, honoured and privileged to begin serving the great community of Hamilton as the HWDSB Director of Education.”

The words resonate as I get ready for my first day of school as HWDSB’s director. Like the 50,000 students preparing to return to our schools, I too will be making my lunch, packing my bag and heading out the door full of nerves and excitement.

Fall is a special time in education. Educators’ lives revolve around the school year, and September 8 is a bit like our New Year’s Day. We take stock of the past, we look ahead, we strive to do things better than the year before.

At HWDSB, one way we’ve been taking stock is through our Reimagine initiative. With a new Board of Trustees and director, we set out to ask our community: how have we done and what can we improve?

With focus groups, surveys and community meetings, we collected feedback from hundreds of parents, staff and community members. The feedback was not always easy to hear.

We heard that we need to address some key issues in the areas of culture, communication, partnerships and resources as we develop a new vision for HWDSB by December.

Specifically, we need to ensure senior administration continues to support the system in collaborative ways. We also need to continue to create a culture that encourages our staff, welcomes our parents and demonstrates our transparency to the entire community.

As a new school year arrives, these are becoming our resolutions.

We take this feedback to heart because we want to exceed your expectations as a public school board that helps all students achieve their full potential but we realize we must do it in partnership with students, staff, parents, guardians and our Hamilton community.

As for me, with my first day of school approaching, I am full of questions.

What will be my first day of school outfit? What kind of sandwich do I want to pack? Who will I sit beside on my first day? Will I make some new friends? What will I learn? Will I be accepted by others? What questions will be asked of me?

But one thing I already know is this: I am deeply honoured to be the new Director of Education and to have an opportunity to make a positive change in the lives of the students across HWDSB.

AuthorLorenzo Somma

Hamilton airport's new cargo terminal is wheels up.

 CARGO CENTRE   The new cargo centre officially opened Thursday afternoon at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport . Officials predict the centre will provided employment for up to 400 people.


The new cargo centre officially opened Thursday afternoon at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport . Officials predict the centre will provided employment for up to 400 people.

 ENTRE OPENS   The new cargo centre officially opened Thursday afternoon at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport .


The new cargo centre officially opened Thursday afternoon at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport .

Cathie Coward,The Hamilton Spectator

 The $12-million facility was officially opened Thursday, even though its main tenant has been operating from it for a month.

Airport president Frank Scremin said the new terminals, with a cooler, secured customs area and 16 truck bays, will open Mount Hope airport to tons of cargo it hasn't been able to handle before.

"This will open access to the overnight express business in Hamilton to a lot of cargo operators," Scremin said. "This facility is going to be accessible for them."

Scremin explained that while Hamilton is already the busiest cargo airport in Canada, its growth has been held back by the lack of something like the new Air Cargo Logistics Centre.

He explained that with few warehouses in Hamilton, shippers lacked space to store their freight while they consolidated cargos or got customs clearances. Time-sensitive freight, like flowers, pharmaceuticals and food, couldn't go through Hamilton at all without a cooler.

Now, with 5,000 square feet of climate-controlled space, fruit from South America, flowers from Europe, seafood from the Martimes and medication from everywhere can pass through Hamilton.

"We are going to be a lot more aggressive about going after the perishables business now," Scremin said.

Half of the new terminal has been taken over by CargoJet, the Mississauga-based company that has become Canada's largest air freight hauler.

Gord Johnston, the company's vice-president for sales, said the new terminal will make John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport a destination for many new airlines, bringing in freight his aircraft can then move around the country.

"I know other airlines are going to be attracted here now," he said.

Cost of the facility was split between the federal and provincial governments and TradePort International Corp., the company that operates the airport under a long-term lease with Hamilton.

With a federal election looming, government MPs were quick to praise the Harper Conservatives for backing an important infrastructure project.

"Canada's prosperity depends on a network of strong public infrastructure," said Public Works Minister Diane Finley. "We remain focused on creating the right environment to encourage economic growth."

Finley said the new facility will result in 400 jobs, both in its own operations and among companies using it.

Ontario Education Minister and Guelph MPP Liz Sandals said her government supported the project because it will boost the area's economy.

"We're supporting this because we want to grow our economy and create jobs right here in Hamilton," she said. "We're supporting this because we know how important infrastructure projects like this are.

Even Opposition MPs supported the project. Wayne Marston, the NDP member for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek praised it as a source of jobs for the future.

Ron Foxcroft, chair of TradePort's board, said the city needs more such projects that cut across party lines for the good of the city.

"More than anything this airport is an example of partnerships working," he said. "It shows we can break down the party lines for the benefit of the city."


More and more women are breaking into non-traditional fields, but they still face barriers

Stories Amy Kenny
The Hamilton Spectator

In 1988, when Marla Robinson applied for a position as a repair technician at an aerospace company, the company told her it would love to hire her but for one thing.

“I was told ‘we don’t have a washroom on the plant floor for you to change,’” she says.

Robinson, who acts as program co-ordinator with the school of skilled trades and apprenticeship programs at Mohawk College, recently told the story at a Women in Trades dinner put on by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Afterward, the presenter next to Robinson told her she had ended up with that exact repair tech job the following year. After complaints, the company had made the concession to allow women to change in the human resources office.

Robinson says things have changed since the ’80s. There are still far fewer women in trades than there are men. In 2007, Statistics Canada reported that men accounted for 97 per cent of skilled tradespeople.

But programs including Mohawk’s women in skilled trades, and enhanced general carpentry for women through The Centre Skills Development and Training, get good uptake.

Robinson says students in the programs aren’t always your typical college-age crowd. Mohawk sees women who have lost their jobs and are there for second career training. Some have been at home with kids for a few years and want to work again. Others loved shop class in high school and have realized they want to work in a hands-on environment. Still others are lured by the salary.

Service jobs pay minimum wage, Robinson says. Trade jobs are living wage jobs.

“It’s almost like learning another language,” she says.

In some cases, it really is another language.

Ladies Learning Code is a non-profit aimed at teaching coding and digital literacy to women and youth.

IT is a field that’s notoriously unfriendly to them.

In 2014, a harassment campaign (dubbed Gamergate) sought to discourage women from working in video game development. The campaign consisted of everything from publishing personal information about female gamers to threats of a mass shooting at a university where a female video game critic was scheduled to speak.

Melissa Sariffodeen, one of the founders of LLC, says there’s a prevalent stereotype that technology is the domain of the solitary male, sitting in the basement, eating two-day-old pizza. Women are considered too social and creative for it.

“The big thing about tech is that the industry is inherently social and it’s so collaborative,” says Sariffodeen, who started learning code when she decided she wanted to get out of her accounting job and into app-building.

LLC has a goal to teach code to 200,000 women and girls by 2020 (the organization has currently taught 23,000). She wants to make them builders of technology as well as consumers of it.

“The key thing here is, as we grow as a society, technology isn’t going anywhere,” she says. “It’s important that the tools that we use each day are built by a representative of the population.”

Chapters across Canada, including one in Hamilton, arrange regular evening and weekend courses. Curious about how to use Python? Need an intro to HTML and CSS? LLC offers both.

Last summer, the YWCA Hamilton ran its own 10-week course in information technology.

Maisie Raymond-Brown, director of employment and training services at the Y, says the class was geared toward women with a degree of IT familiarity.

Some of those accepted into the program were single parents looking for better jobs. (The median wage for a web developer in Hamilton is $28.21 per hour.) Others were newcomers looking for Canadian experience and education, or women who just wanted to earn some extra money on the side.

Of the 23 women who participated in the 2014 class, Raymond-Brown says five are currently employed in the field. Another five are self-employed. Three more returned to school for further education.

One place to turn to for help with finding everything from school-to-work transition programs, to workplace tours, to mentorship opportunities is the Industry Education Council of Hamilton.

The non-profit facilitates a school-to-work transition program for youth interested in advanced manufacturing. It also connects mentors with aspiring workers, and develops partnerships between schools, business and industry.

IECH has been around since 1980, but project manager Susan Clarke says in the past 10 years, the focus has shifted to women in trades.

The organization was one of those behind the Women in Trades dinner in June. Clarke says it’s important to be open and honest about what it’s like for women working in trades. To discuss the ups (salary, the upcoming job openings, the joy of working with your hands) and downs (sexual harassment, having your skills second-guessed, feeling isolated as the only woman) so the fields don’t seem like the unknown.

Clarke says the industry isn’t quite where it should be, but things are changing.

In 2011 Women in Nuclear Canada and Skills Canada — Ontario published a report that found less than 3 per cent of all apprentices in construction, automotive and industry trades are women.

This even though Clarke says now is a great time to get into the trades. The current workforce is aging quickly.

With school starting in September, there are a handful of women who pursued careers in “non-traditional” fields. From electrical to automotive work, from IT to horticulture, where there’s a perception the physical labour too great for women, they’re changing the definition of “traditional” work